I was thinking of the late night spots of my younger days. Better than the murder burgers in 24hr fast-food restaurants, I was thinking about places where crowds of after-hour people gathered to find good food. We crowded at these eateries and restaurants before granting the overdue ending to a long insatiable night. I had my places, which I preferred over the others.
I had my favorite dishes.
By the time the meal was finished, the sun would begin to poke its way through the membrane of the horizon. Reconstructed from darkness to sunlight, the morning sun lifted as the birds chirped. If I were lucky, I would make it home and through my front door before the automatic lawn sprinklers soaked the grass in a circular pattern.
I was thinking about a place just off Avenue A on St. Marks called Stingy LuLu’s. Inside and to the right of the entrance, standing behind a podium was a tall, well-dressed transgendered woman that took people to their tables.
I was thinking about their Yankee pot roast or their bowl of French onion soup. I was thinking about the pirogues and applesauce at the Odessa Diner which was only a few blocks down, or the all-night dim sum place in Chinatown.
Before my time of late nights in the streets of New York City or in the summer months when the thing to do was rave the scene at the waterfront bars in Island Park, I usually found myself at one of the Long Island Diners. Most commonly ordered was the cheeseburger deluxe with French fries that were covered in melted mozzarella cheese with a side of brown gravy.
The better the night meant the better the meal. I was young and crazy. I was unsure what it meant to truly feel love.
Ah, but I loved the way I felt at the end of these long crazy nights. I was satisfied. I was satisfied because I was well fed. I was satisfied to live outside the lines. I was satisfied to be wild and feel all that I could feel. In my short span of life; I was satisfied to feel everything at once and yet feel nothing at the same time. It was good to be young and howl with the boys. It was good to be wild and feel the electric charge of life without fear or without or remorse.
As the night ended, I gathered with friends like warriors that were fresh from battle. We talked about the night like proud soldiers howling about victories on the battlefield. We laughed about the girls we met and the girls we knew.
We laughed about the fights. We talked about the high and low points of the evening and joked about the drunk ones—they were the ones that were sick with puke stains on their shirt. We were the princes of our own little kingdom, eating like royalty, and roaring like knights of our own little round table.
I was thinking about my ability to recover from nights like this. Sleepless and tired, I would somehow make it to work the following day.
Meanwhile, I specifically recall sitting with my friends at the diner, laughing about the consequences of how tired I would be the next day, and feasting on cheese-covered French fries and a cheeseburger (medium-rare) with hot sauce and one egg, cooked over-easy, and stuffed in a mouthwatering bun.
Youth: These were the best of my days as well as the worst. My life at the time was only an experiment. Everything—and I do mean absolutely everything—was about the moment at hand. I felt so alive then. I was alive, but yet, misguided by my assumptions of manhood.
And here I am now. I’ve gained a considerable amount of weight since then. I’ve changed my diet and definitions of manhood. I am often in bed early. I still howl; only now I howl for different reasons. I am excited for different things. But, in the event I’m up late or whether I’m up early; it is still a good thing to see the morning sun poke the membrane of the sky.